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Review Sun Jul 18 2010

Po' Boys and Muffalettas in the West Loop

Given the Mardi Gras beads dangling from wall sconces and a voodoo mask hanging by the order counter, even if you didn't know that Mac & Min's serves N'awlins-style food, then you'd probably guess pretty quickly. Housed in what used to be Jerry's Sandwiches' West Loop location, Mac & Min's offers a much less overwhelming selection of meat/seafood-and-bread concoctions -- namely po' boys and muffalettas, offered in quarter (muffalettas only), half, and whole sizes. The Jerry's quality (and enormous sandwich size) remains: the joint is owned by the same people, husband-and-wife duo Mark Bires and Mindy Friedler.

With a small outdoor patio, the restaurant, which opened July 5, could fit a good-sized lunch crowd, probably about 40-50 people. I went on a Saturday around noon with my boyfriend, Paul; and our friend Heather, and we decided to eat indoors for some quality air-conditioning time. Brass-band music and New Orleans jazz played over the speakers -- fitting, since the "Mac" half of the restaurant's name refers to NOLA music legend Malcolm John "Mac" Rebennack, or "Dr. John."

macandmins.jpgI knew what I was going to get as soon as I walked in and saw the menu above the order counter, but thanks to my indecisiveness, I wavered between some kind of fried-seafood po' boy and the muffaletta -- ham, mortadella, hot capicola, and salami, served with olive relish and provolone. I finally decided on the voodoo fried-shrimp po' boy (what I thought I'd get), served with all the fixings, including a side of refreshing mayo-based remoulade. "Voodoo" means that the shrimp is drenched in buffalo sauce, pretty much impossible for me to resist.

"Oh, they have my favorite kind of chip," Paul said excitedly before he ordered a voodoo shrimp-and-oyster po' boy, half-size, which is enough meal for any size person. The Louisiana-based brand Zapp's is one of eight side options, including Creole potato salad, mac and cheese, and corn bread. I ordered the sweet-potato fries with debris gravy (apparently pronounced DAY-bree, according to nolacuisine.com, and thus I pronounced it totally wrong when I ordered it). My total for a half po' boy and small side was about $13, less than I ever spent at Jerry's, maybe because there's no alcohol served here.

We waited about ten minutes and then came sangwich heaven. The crusty brioche bread overflowed with angry, red shrimps; I could feel my imaginary hot-sauce-induced ulcer growing just looking at them, and I loved it. It was hard to figure out how to bite, but eventually (after picking out a few shrimps with my fork and letting the buttery sauce burn my tongue) I was able to fit it into my mouth ("That's what she said," Heather helpfully offered). The sauce had soaked into the bun by then, which only added to the pleasant burn. The fries were crispy, but the gravy was kind of a let down. Given the name, I expected chunks of meat floating around, but it was actually really watery. Good thing adding the DAY-bree gravy is free--I ended up eating most of the fries with the remoulade. Heather's roast beef po' boy brought a little bit of Chicago to New Orleans--it reminded me of an Italian beef sandwich with remoulade, which was hard to taste over the garlicky, salty beef.

None of us had room for dessert, but for those of you who plan ahead better than we do, Mac & Min's has Scooter's custard!

Mac & Min's
1045 W. Madison St.
312-563-1008

PS: If you are still mourning Jerry's, just hop on the blue line or the #56 bus and come up to Wicker Park. Jerry's still lives up there.

 
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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

The State of Food Writing

By Brandy Gonsoulin

In 2009, food blogging, social media and Yelp were gaining popularity, and America's revered gastronomic magazine Gourmet shuttered after 68 years in business. Former Cook's Illustrated editor-in-chief Chris Kimball followed with an editorial, stating that "The shuttering of Gourmet reminds...
Read this feature »

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Drive-Thru is the food and drink section of Gapers Block, covering the city's vibrant dining, drinking and cooking scene. More...
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Editor: Robyn Nisi, rn@gapersblock.com
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